3 Reasons To Track Your Food

3 Reasons To Track Your Food

If you know me, you know I’m not big on the calorie-counting and tracking mania of the rest of the diet world.  I prefer to let people figure out their health intuitively, eating whole, healthful foods that make them feel good.  

But in some circumstances I actually think tracking may be a good idea.

There’s no one size fits all way to know if tracking might be a good choice for you.  You know yourself best.

But here are 3 reasons you might consider tracking food intake.

#1 Micronutrients

Even if you’re eating paleo, you may not be getting ALL the nutrients required for health.  

Ever monitored how much potassium you’re taking in?  I can almost guarantee it doesn’t meet the recommended daily allowance.  

Now, I’m not about perfectionism and strict rule following.

But micronutrients are just as important, if not more important than macros.

Instead of worrying about what exact percentage or gram amount of carbs you’re eating in a day, how’s about worrying if you’ve got your daily allotment of vitamin C, or the B vitamins, or (gasp!) fiber!

You might be surprised.  In fact, I’m pretty sure you will be.

Because if you’re not downing tons of non-starchy veggies and leafy greens you’re not getting as much as you could.  And if you’re not going to make it a priority, it might be time to start thinking about the dreaded multivitamin to help prevent nutrient deficiencies.

I recommend this one in my post on multivitamins which you can find here

#2 You’re having trouble losing weight

I’m a huge proponent of eating a naturally healthy diet and being moderate about the crazy counting calories stuff.

My program Weight Loss Unlocked works for a lot of people by helping them make healthful food choices without really having to count anything.  But some people just have trouble with this method.  

Did you know the average person underestimated their caloric intake by about 30%?  

That number can rise even more if the person isn’t tracking calories.

And while I agree that calories are not the end all be all of weight loss, and certainly not of health, you can’t eat 3000 of them as a fairly sedentary person a day and expect to lose weight.

I don’t care if you’re eating cake or coconut oil, too many calories are going to derail your efforts.  

This is where tracking can help.

Take a week and see where you’re at.  That can give you a better idea of where you’re eating too much and where you’re just right.

Then try tracking a week at a more appropriate calorie count for weight loss and be mindful of how it feels.  Then, when you stop tracking, you’ll have a better idea of what the right amount of food should feel like.  

#3 You’re gaining weight or aren’t feeling well

Weight gain can be caused by a number of factors- hormones, water retention, medications, etc.

But if you have been gaining weight inexplicably, you haven’t done anything differently, or don’t feel you have, tracking your food intake may be helpful.  

Perhaps you’re eating the same number of calories but have increased your carbohydrate count.  If you have insulin resistance, this could cause weight gain.  If you don’t, it could be water retention.

Maybe you feel like you’ve been eating the same, but are forgetting about those dark chocolate squares you sneak in throughout the day, or that new post-workout drink, or those new fat bombs.  

Excess calories could be causing sneaky pounds to build up.  

Maybe it’s just the second half of your cycle, maybe it’s constipation, it could be anything, but sometimes excessive weight gain can indicate an underlying problem.  

If you track your intake and nothing is outside of normal, and the weight keeps packing on, it could be a thyroid problem or a side effect of a medication, or any number of issues.

You can use this information when you see your doctor, and you’ll be one step ahead of the curve.

Likewise, if you aren’t feeling well or are having increased anxiety, depression, or blood sugar crashes, tracking food intake alongside your mood after eating can help you pinpoint possible issues or trigger food/times.

Same thing goes for having digestive issues.  If you know what you ate and at what time, it’s much easier to figure out intolerance. 

Mindful eating is a skill.  And it’s best learned in the context of normal hunger and satiety cues.  

If your insulin is out of whack or you’re carrying a lot of excess weight, or have any kind of health condition or medication that interferes with your hunger cues, mindful eating is going to be remarkably difficult and could lead to feelings of failure and lack of results.

Nutritionists and nerds alike love the website cronometer.com.  It gives you WAY more detailed micronutrient values than other apps like My Fitness Pal, though that is a great choice for busy people because it has an app.

Whether you choose to track or not, I hope we can all learn to be respectful of what works for us as individuals.

If mindful eating isn’t right for someone right now, they certainly don’t need to be judged for that.  And likewise if counting calories is mentally unhealthy for someone, they deserve respect and support as they follow the natural cues of their body.

Do you track food intake?  Why or why not?  What site do you like to use?

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So, just as a heads up - some links above may be my affiliate links, which means I get a small commission if you click on it and make a purchase. Doing so is no additional cost to you, but helps me tremendously. Your support is SO greatly appreciated, so thank you in advance if you choose to do so. Check out my entire disclosure to know exactly how things work.

An Ode to Sweet Potatoes

An Ode to Sweet Potatoes

Oh sweet potato, oh sweet potato, how much I love thee!

Okay, so this isn’t going to be an actual ode to sweet potatoes.

But this week I’ve been craving sweet potatoes LIKE MAD and I’m just getting ’em in any way I can. 

So I thought I’d share my favorite sweet potato snacks BESIDES just making sweet potato fries.  (Which, btw, is way easier with this handy utensil. )

Cut em’ up, drizzle with oil, and broil.  Flip halfway through.  Simple and quick, that’s how I do it.

Oh, and don’t forget to coat them liberally in real salt.  My favorite is Redmond’s Real Salt which you can find here. 

I love sweet potatoes for a lot of reasons.  First, I think they taste AMAZING.  They have so much flavor compared to your typical potato. 

Sweet potatoes are also rich in soluble fiber, vitamin A, vitamin C, potassium, manganese, vitamin B6 and more.  

They are a super nutritious food that works amazingly well for workout recovery, higher carb days, or a balanced meal with protein and fat. 

The Sweet Potato Lover’s Cookbook includes tons of great ideas for using sweet potatoes.  Find it here. 

I absolutely LOVE Jackson’s Honest Sweet Potato Chips (find them here).  I like to snack on the ones cooked in coconut oil after a long night of dancing! 

Organic sweet potato puree (find it here) is amazing to use in brownies or baked goods.

Flours are carby anyway, why not replace some with sweet potato puree and get some nutrients?  If you use this, you will have to account for it with the water content of the baked good.

You can also use sweet potato flour (find it here) to replace most of the regular flour in baked goods.

Or, you know, you could just buy already made stuff, too!

These bars would make an AWESOME post-workout snack.  They do have pecans, so they aren’t for everyone, but they are made with grass-fed beef and sweet potato and are a healthy option for lots of people!  Find them here. 

No matter what your carb count, sweet potatoes are one food I just see very little reason to completely give up.

Of course, non-starchy vegetables should make up the majority of your intake, but a few starches here and there won’t hurt you, and sweet potatoes offer a totally nutritious choice!

Do you have any favorite ways to eat sweet potato?  Hit me up with your recipes and advice!

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So, just as a heads up - some links above may be my affiliate links, which means I get a small commission if you click on it and make a purchase. Doing so is no additional cost to you, but helps me tremendously. Your support is SO greatly appreciated, so thank you in advance if you choose to do so. Check out my entire disclosure to know exactly how things work.

Top 3 Sneaky Ways to Eat Your Greens

Top 3 Sneaky Ways to Eat Your Greens

Ah, leafy greens.

We love to extol your benefits, hate to actually eat you.

We praise the benefits of daily servings, yet fail to meet our own mark.

If you are one of the beautiful people who LOVE leafy greens and eat them all the time, this post is not for you.

No, this post is for all you ladies and gents out there who make a salad and eat mostly the toppings.

This is for those who buy those beautiful boxes of organic spinach and throw it, moldy and weeks later, in the trash.

This is for the ones who praise paleo and the nutritional benefits of leafy greens to friends but never seem to find the time to actually eat them.

I mean, geesh, it’s hard enough eating the minimum daily serving of VEGETABLES when all you really want to do is down about 3 sweet potatoes in the form of french fries.

I get it.  Life is busy, food is hard.  And it’s true what they say about leafy greens- they are one of nature’s healthiest, most important foods.

Spinach itself could provide all the nutrients a person needs in high enough quantities without ever touching another vegetable.

It’s magic food.

So if you find yourself flailing in the meantime as you mean to get those greens in but don’t, cut yourself some slack and try some of these 3 ways of getting in a little extra.  It’ll do your body good.

1. Greens Capsules and Powders

I’m known in some parts for my smoothie recipes which, in my opinion, are bomb.

And usually I’ll use fresh greens and grind them up to include.

Spinach is great with banana, kale is awesome with raspberry.

But when you’re on the go or out of spinach, there’s also several great powders you can use that combine all the goodness and nutrition of leafy greens with other vegetables, many of which we don’t commonly eat.  These can be mixed into smoothies and taste great.

I love these greens caps from Premier Research Labs because they have some crazy weird greens in them!  All organic and nutritionally power-packed, there are a lot of greens you’ll probably never eat.

I’m talking to you barley grass!

These are great to take with food and it also comes in powder form for smoothies.

Find the greens capsules on Amazon here or the greens powder here

I also really love this greens powder for smoothies.  Just another great option to mix in! Find it here.

2. Baby Food

Okay, so maybe it sounds gross.

But if you’re in a hurry, making a smoothie in the morning or just need something to grab and sip, there are some seriously great baby foods out there.

Who says baby’s are the only ones who can eat pureed fruits and vegetables?

The best part about these is that they are pureed so you still get all the important fiber.

My favorite are these organic spinach, apple, and kale packets. (Find them here)

Truly, they taste pretty good and I love to just throw them into a smoothie or brownie batter, or whatever and I get extra greens in the process!

3. Chips

I don’t know if it’s possible to make spinach into a chip.  In fact, I’m pretty sure it’s not.

But I do know one thing.

Kale can be made into a chip.

And it’s DELICIOUS.

I’m a huge, huge fan of kale chips.  For some reason, they genuinely don’t taste like kale.

They are crunchy, salty and still good for you.

Find some of my favorite kale chips here.

From mixing purees into spaghetti sauce, to dressing up veggies like cute tiny animals, there are tons of ways to get more veggies.

What are some sneaky ways you like to get your greens?

 

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So, just as a heads up - some links above may be my affiliate links, which means I get a small commission if you click on it and make a purchase. Doing so is no additional cost to you, but helps me tremendously. Your support is SO greatly appreciated, so thank you in advance if you choose to do so. Check out my entire disclosure to know exactly how things work.

The Microbiome, Pregnancy, and Children

The Microbiome, Pregnancy, and Children

We already know how important the gut is to the health and functioning of the body.  (Find my article A Healthy Gut in 4 Steps: This Week In Paleo here)

But did you know that the gut doesn’t just determine the health of our digestion or immune system but even the health of our brains and our offspring?

In fact, evidence is mounting that the microbiome (that collection of bacteria, fungi, and other creatures who colonize the colon, skin, etc) may determine whether you suffer from anxiety, depression, and may play a role in the development of autism in young children, among other things.

If you are pregnant, thinking of becoming pregnant, or have a young child, these are important things you should know. 

The Microbiome and Pregnancy

Before birth, the mother’s microbiome actually changes to produce extra lactobacillus (which helps the baby digest milk) as well as several other bacteria that give the infant an important start in the world, helping with their immune systems and digestion, as well as several other things.

These bacteria coat the vaginal wall in preparation for the infant’s trip through the birth canal.

However,  some mothers are placed on antibiotics while pregnant.  They are sometimes important but these broad spectrum antibiotics destroy both negative and positive bacteria, meaning fewer bacteria overall for the baby.

It is wise to seek a doctor with a well-rounded view and respect for the microbiome, one who is careful with prescriptions of antibiotics, especially during pregnancy.

The Journey of Birth

When it comes time to give birth, the journey through the birth canal is one of the most important moments for the microbiological quantity and quality of an infant.

That trip through the birth canal is vitally important for a new baby.  The microbiome of the vaginal wall infiltrates the babies mouth, eyes, ears, and gets into every mucous membrane, rapidly providing the important first colonization.

However, many babies are now born via cesarean section and therefore are not colonized by the bacteria on the vaginal wall, but rather by the skin of whoever they first spend time touching.  This is significant because the microbiota of the skin is different than what is present in a healthy gut.  

If C-sections are necessary (and they often are, though the medical community is beginning to admit they have historically been overused for many reasons) then many women are requesting or performing vaginal swabs to the mucous membranes of infants just after birth so that the infants can be colonized by the mother’s microbiome.

It might sound weird, but this could prove to be a vitally important procedure for the health, immune system, and psychology of children.

Since pregnant women spend nine months building this special colony for their baby, it’s a shame not to be able to pass it on, and may one day be shown to be quite damaging to the infant.  

Early Childhood

The first three years of life are vitally important for development of a child, especially their microbiome but many children experience ear infections early in life, or other issues which may be prescribed antibiotics.  

Studies on rats have shown that those kept sterile or “germ-free” develop social anxiety, even autistic-like features, as well as a penchant towards obesity and other diseases.

Not only that, but with animals from conventional farms being fed antibiotics to both prevent illness and promote fat storage, we are all are inadvertently consuming antibiotics through food when we eat conventional meat.  

Though there are times when antibiotics are necessary and can be lifesaving, it is generally agreed upon that they have been historically overused, often with little to no benefit and, it is being discovered, more and more detriment. In many cases, the condition would go away in time and may not even be a bacterial infection.

According to many medical professionals, it is often difficult to discern whether an issue is bacterial or a virus.  Because many doctors receive pressure from patients for relief or are determined to “cover their bases”, antibiotics have been overprescribed.  Pair that with the overuse of germ-killing products like hand sanitizer and it’s clear why there has been such a rise in antibiotic resistant bacteria, which can be deadly.

Probiotics

Most of us were probably placed on antibiotics at some point which threw our microbiome out of whack.  

And it’s important for us to work with the best information and knowledge we have to try to put a healthy gut back together. 

As adults, early childhood issues of the microbiome promote a range of conditions including obesity, diabetes, and associated illnesses, as well as diseases of the gut like Chron’s, and autoimmune conditions, allergies, and the like.

Psychologically there is growing evidence that an affected microbiome can stimulate anxiety, depression, and other mental health issues.

In several studies, as well as my work anecdotally, probiotics do seem to help many people improve mood, digestion, and symptoms of illnesses and conditions like irritable bowl syndrome. 

For those with depression and anxiety, I think it makes sense to take a probiotic and for anyone- children and adults- who have had to use rounds of antibiotics, I think it is valuable to take a probiotic.

The probiotics used in most supplements are those with heavy research backing their efficacy.  It’s hard to know just how much bacteria actually gets through the stomach acid with these probiotics, but several have special coatings to hopefully help them reach the colon intact.

I particularly like this probiotic for adults (find it here).  Though it has fewer colonies, it is supposed to be more effective, remaining intact through the stomach and small intestine so that it can reach the colon.

This is a probiotic recommended for children (find it here).  As with anything with kids, please make sure you get your doctor’s OK before giving these to your child.

Remember that a healthy diet is vital for the health of the gut as well.  As much as I’d love it, we can’t just take a supplement and be done with it.

If you’ve had success with probiotic therapy, I’d love to hear from you!  Which ones have worked for you?  Which haven’t?  And what have you done to improve your microbiome?

 

 

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So, just as a heads up - some links above may be my affiliate links, which means I get a small commission if you click on it and make a purchase. Doing so is no additional cost to you, but helps me tremendously. Your support is SO greatly appreciated, so thank you in advance if you choose to do so. Check out my entire disclosure to know exactly how things work.

Fruit Is Life: Snacks for Any Occasion

Fruit Is Life: Snacks for Any Occasion

I love fruit and I love chips. There’s no mystery there.

But I also love convenience, especially when I’m out on the town or on a great hike.  And mangos don’t always fit in my purse!

How do those things go together?  Easy:  freeze dried fruit.

It’s delicious, it’s nutritious, it fits in my tiny clutch handbags and doesn’t get my hands sticky and gross on the run.

 It keeps well and its light and easy to carry. It’s the perfect snack.

Fruit sometimes gets a bad rap in the paleo community because of it’s relatively high sugar content (compared to other things most paleo folks consume).

However, fruit has been shown time and time again to improve inflammatory markers in people with chronic inflammation, provide important nutrients like Vitamin C as well as flavanoids and other anti-inflammatory compounds, is a great source of fiber, and it tastes DELISH.

It’s nature’s gift, so enjoy it.

Fresh fruit is obviously best, but there’s something wonderful about the convenience of freeze-dried that I just love.  Unlike regular dried fruit which is often coated in sugar, it’s fairly easy to find freeze dried fruit that has no added sugar.

Sugar isn’t even necessary with these delicious morsels of happiness, anyway.

And while there’s about as many brands of freeze dried fruit out there as you can imagine, these are a few of my new favorites which I have been thoroughly enjoying of late.

Jicama Chips

These jicama chips are no joke.  Did you even know they made chips from jicama?? Maybe it’s not dried “fruit” per se, but its awesome and delicious and I couldn’t write a snack post without letting you guys know about these little gems.

These particular ones are a bit spicy with chile and lime!  Yum!  Find Chile-Lime Jicama chips here.

Apple Chips

I’m also a huge fan of apple chips.  They’re so sweet/sour/yummy.  Apple is an awesome source of fiber and a lower glycemic fruit choice compared to some others.

These apple chips in particular are my fav.  They’re made from just apples and cinnamon, no added sugar.  Find Bare apple chips on Amazon here. 

Banana and Coconut Chips

Does it get much better than bananas and coconut?  This particular snack comes with dried coconut and chewy dried banana mixed together.  What a great snack with fruit, fiber, and good fats!  Find banana coconut chips here. 

Strawberry Chips

Of all the fruits, there is a very large body of evidence that strawberries are quite anti-inflammatory.  They’re also one of my favorite fruits EVER.  I like to get my dried ones from Steve’s Paleo Goods (find them here) but for freeze-dried strawberry chips, these do the trick.

Find strawberry chips here. 

I hope you all enjoy these yummy snacks!!

What are your favorite paleo snacks for on-the-go?

 

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So, just as a heads up - some links above may be my affiliate links, which means I get a small commission if you click on it and make a purchase. Doing so is no additional cost to you, but helps me tremendously. Your support is SO greatly appreciated, so thank you in advance if you choose to do so. Check out my entire disclosure to know exactly how things work.

The Link Between L-Carnitine and PCOS

The Link Between L-Carnitine and PCOS

If you have PCOS, you’ve probably tried a number of things to help your health, and you probably have a number of concerns.

Women with PCOS are more likely to be overweight or obese, more likely to suffer metabolic disorders and insulin-related conditions, and, alongside the extra facial hair, irregular periods, and infertility, it’s a lot to take.

I care deeply about this condition and have worked in my own way to help those who have it for many years (see my PCOS program: PCOS Unlocked)

But the more prevalent PCOS becomes, the more research is done, and new things are coming out all the time!

I’m so excited to bring you this information on L-carnitine, a very special amino acid that can help women with PCOS lose weight naturally and feel more energetic.  

L-carnitine is a nootropic amino acid found typically in meat products and milk.

Nootropics are types of supplements (like adaptogens) that work with the brain to increase it’s efficiency.  

L-carnitine helps alleviate the effects of aging and disease on mitochondria, while increasing the mitochondria’s potential to burn fat.

For most people (i.e. those without PCOS) it is not a nutrient of concern and they synthesize an ample amount internally and from lysine and methionine in foods.  However, it has been found that women with PCOS are often deficient in L-carnitine, regardless of their diets.

L-carnitine improves insulin sensitivity and helps lower blood glucose, which is valuable for women with PCOS who are usually insulin resistant.  

This ability, plus the fact that PCOS women are often deficient in L-carnitine seem to make l-carnitine effective in promoting natural weight loss.  

It is also known to increase energy, lower ammonia, enhance energy during cancer treatment, improve exercise tolerance and energy in those with conditions like angina and congestive heart failure, and enhance sperm morphology, in case you were curious!

Although studies regarding weight loss with l-carnitine in general seem to find mixed benefit, studies which look at those deficient in l-carnitine or those with insulin resistance and metabolic syndrome find it does help.

In fact, a recent study of PCOS only women found that compared to placebo, statistically significant weight loss occurred over 12 weeks with supplementation.

This is excellent news since it is no secret that PCOS women, with their hormone imbalances and insulin resistance typically struggle to maintain a healthy weight.  

Adverse effects are rare but can include gastrointestinal disturbance, body odor, and seizures.  I’ve heard from some women that it causes a “fishy” odor in the urine, which can be unpleasant.  It may possibly interact with anticoagulants and certain thyroid medications so, like with any supplement or diet, you should get the okay from your doctor.  

Typical doses in the studies that showed weight loss benefits ranged from 500-2,000 mg a day, with 2,000 mg. a day being what was used with PCOS women.

Though the evidence for this supplement in PCOS are somewhat new, there’s enough promise that I find it interesting for PCOS ladies looking for weight loss help.  
It’s not a magic pill, and a focus on healthy dietary habits is absolutely still vital for women the PCOS.

But, one of the cool things about L-carnitine is that it is best deposited into muscles in hyperinsulinemic states, or during times when insulin is high (which is almost all the time for most PCOS women).

That means those with insulin resistant conditions would see the most benefit from supplementation.

If you’re interested in trying L-carnintine, give it at least 12 weeks of supplementation.  This is one (find l-carnitine on amazon here) I particularly like because the pills are in 1000 mg amounts so you can just take 2 a day, with meals.  

Find L-carnitine on Amazon here. 

Do you take l-carnitine and has it helped you?  What supplements are part of your PCOS routine?

 

(Here’s the citation for that study, in case you want to check it out- 

Samimi, M., Jamilian, M., Afshar Ebrahimi, F., Rahimi, M., Tajbakhsh, B., & Asemi, Z. (2016). Oral carnitine supplementation reduces body weight and insulin resistance in women with polycystic ovary syndrome: a randomized, double‐blind, placebo‐controlled trial. Clinical endocrinology.)

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So, just as a heads up - some links above may be my affiliate links, which means I get a small commission if you click on it and make a purchase. Doing so is no additional cost to you, but helps me tremendously. Your support is SO greatly appreciated, so thank you in advance if you choose to do so. Check out my entire disclosure to know exactly how things work.